Rick and I have been having this discussion for a while now on whether the "bad apples" in an institution should or shouldn't be seen as representative of the whole institution as a "bad barrel," with a particular focus, instigated by me, on the Catholic Church and organized religion in general as an example.

Here's Rick's latest installment:

And? Your point?

This confirms what you had said regarding institutions. How does that differ from your original point? Be it the head of the institution or the gentry. What difference does it make?

Up until the late 80's, it was an accepted belief that pedophiles, I know nothing about homosexuals/heterosexuals who prey on teenagers, could be rehabilitated.

What did anyone really know about these kinds of abuses and the damage they caused. What really happened to these offenders? Not much. I know of a person in my town who abused his own adopted sons during the 70's through the 90's. It wasn't until the 90's and his 3rd "son" did he get put in the clink. Look at domestic violence. How many people got physically/sexually abused before it became noble to call these bastards to the carpet? The good thing is that now people aren't afraid to speak up and/or simply "keep quiet".

It was a common practice to send these heinous offenders to clinics and therapists would "fix" them and send them back "cured". However, the German priest of whom you wrote has been reassigned and the charge is that he continued to molest until 2006. OK. If this is true, how will the institution respond??? If it banishes this bastard and admits to it's role, I expect you to hail the institution for trying to right a wrong. If it denies and buries the truth (if it is proven), I expect you to continue your assault on the institution and it's bad apples. But the faith and faithful??

Why wouldn't institutions such as hospitals, police, churches, schools, camp counselors put priests, monks, imams, teachers, bankers, therapists, doctors, cross guard people, babysitters, uncles, aunts, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters you name it, back in service? As in Boston, this shuffling of Priests is renowned. Pete, you really want to hear bad? Cardinal Law kept this practice up in the 90's when everyone knew it was wrong and it was then accepted these people could not be rehabilitated. Protecting the institution or his own ass? Yes. He should be condemned. Instead, I went to an Ash Wednesday service in Rome this year and he presided. Disgusting. However, this has nothing to do with the teachings of the faith and the overall mission of the church both of which I truly believe help me live fully. You know much about the hypocrisy but you also are tuned into the teachings and their value. I don't think they are mutually exclusive.

A friend of mine worked in the child sexual abuse unit of Boston's DA's office. You know the most dangerous and common offenders? The mother's boyfriend was #1 and the Uncle was #2 grandfathers + fathers + mothers rounded out the top. I can give you countless examples of these kinds of offenders as you undoubtedly will with the church and other institutions. Does that mean I should tell any parent who let's their kids near these people is abusing their kids as you have suggested they stay away from the church?

Should I not let my sons hang out with my own brothers? My father? My brothers/father -in-law? No. We each make our own decision and take from these relationships with "typical offenders", as with institutions, the wonderful things they can offer. There are bad apples and we try to do our best to flush those out. However, the "good" apples is the rule. The glass is 95% full not 5% empty.

Here's PL:

Let me start by making a "confession," Rick. I grew up Catholic. The real thing. Church every Sunday throughout childhood, Sunday School, Communion, Confirmation, Altar boys - for a while, I even wanted to be a priest! But here's the thing - when I went to church and Sunday school, I really listened. I paid attention. And what I heard was Jesus saying one thing, and the priests and nuns saying and doing something else. Jesus said empowering things things like "The kingdom of Heaven is within each of you" and 'You, too, one day, will effect miracles like I do." Church dogma, on the other hand, never even remotely allowed for such a sense of personal "godhood" in individuals (That's why the Reformation happened, by the way). Jesus also said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," and yes, one of Jesus' best friends was a prostitute, Mary Magdelene. Contrary to what Jesus taught, from the church I received lessons in shame regarding sexuality and guilt trips about being "sinful."

For Christ's sake (pun intended), think about the whole notion of "Original Sin!" How utterly insidious is that to teach a kid?! "Sorry, my son, but you see you're fucked from the start, unless of course, you get baptized and follow Church doctrine to the letter, which is of course impossible, so get your ass to confession regularly, too, where the priest, who does have God's power, will tell you what to do temporarily to redeem yourself.

What I think about your questions is this, Rick: you don't give yourself enough credit. For some reason, you want to attribute the true spirituality that is within you, that you were obviously open to developing over your life, to the institution called the Catholic Church.

The "overall teaching and mission" of the church did not make you the good man that you are.

First of all, too many of the "teachings" of the Church are distortions and negative reinterpretations of the actual teachings of the man the church is supposed to be representing, and secondly, the "mission" of the Church, like all institutions, is to expand its own power. That is why so much enormous damage and carnage has been caused by the Church throughout history - the Crusades, the Inquisition, the philosophical support of slavery and the suppression of women and homosexuals, even as the Church itself is rife with homosexuals. And that's just the tip of the heinous iceberg.

And finally, let me reveal this to you and my readers, Rick - I know someone who was a seminarian - in the Vatican. Yes, that Vatican, as in Rome. And he told me point blank that the Church teaches members of its inner circles about reincarnation and about our abilities to transform matter the way Jesus did, etc., many truths considered "New Age" or Buddhist, etc. But... the seminarians are also taught systematically to suppress that information from the parishioners, because the Church deems (even after 2,000 years!) that we are not ready to hear it!

Get it?

As you can determine from reading my blog, Rick, I'm never talking out of my ass here, or out of prejudice. I am so down on the Church because I was first a part of it, then witnessed the hypocrisy, then did my homework.

The Truth is always available. If we seek it, we shall find it.

Oh, and there's an interesting piece in Huffpost called: "Sin Isn't the Problem with the World, Theology Is!"


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loff56 said...

I've been listening in on this debate for some time, and let me just butt in here for a moment if I can because I think both of you are sort of spinning your wheels in different patches of mud.

Let me rephrase the question at hand here to get to the root of what I think the debate here is really about.

Is an institution defined by its principals, documents, laws etc... or is an institution defined by its members?

I think what Rick is saying is that despite the fact that there's a lot of people in the Church that are really bad apples, that doesn't change the words in the Bible, it doesn't change the teachings of Jesus. And it also doesn't change fundamentally how those principals and teachings are SUPPOSED to effect the members within the Church. The fact that so many people are not listening to what those teachings are SUPPOSED to be telling telling them is not the fault of the institution as it's defined by it's laws, teachings, values and principals.

However on the other hand, Pete makes a good argument that you can't separate the institution from its members. After all it's the members that have the power to disseminate whatever information they want about the laws, teachings, values and principals. Often times this information is heavily tinged with their personal biases, opinions, fears and problems. So, what's the point of teaching anything from the Bible if it's never taught in an unbiased way?

I mean my take on it is this, humans are humans. We misinterpret things all the time, we hear what we want to hear, and we abuse power... any power. Buddhism is not a very mainstream religion at this point, and it's not very centralized either. But who's to say, that if it were both of those things that there wouldn't be power hungry people who would hijack that centralized access and use it for their own self serving purposes. We would all decry those that abused that power, but it wouldn't change the teachings of Buddhism. On the other hand we all have to be stewards of our own institutions. We have to stay involved and make sure that the good people stay in and the bad people get out. My sense is that if Jesus wasn't hijacked by Christianity the guy would seem much cooler to us hipster liberals.

I don't know, I think what I'm saying is that you're both right, but you're both suffering from thinking that only one of you can be right.


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